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Tell me a story: Crowdfunding, community and connection

Emma Gibbs explains that the key to a successful crowdfunding campaign is creating an engaging story for your audience…

I was contemplating starting this post with a sentence or two, setting the scene about the state of our arts and creative industries, how quickly change is occurring and how challenging it often is for creatives to turn our ideas into something more than a kernel we develop… and develop… and develop.

But you know all of that. Probably far better than I do.

I’m a producer and social media manager by trade, a writer by passion (or insanity) and a people connector by nature. For the purpose of this blog, however, think of me as a creative entrepreneur; someone who turns creativity into business, an artist who sells a painting, a writer who sells a book, a filmmaker who sells a movie ticket or DVD. Crowdfunding was a catalyst that allowed me to become a successful creative entrepreneur.

There are a lot of misconceptions around crowdfunding being an easy way to raise money. It’s not. I explored a few of these issues in another blog post so here I’d like to talk about what crowdfunding is, and how I believe it is a key ingredient in the future of creative enterprise.

Fundamentally, crowdfunding provides creative entrepreneurs with an opportunity to cultivate a captive and loyal audience well before most other investment avenues could ever hope to. In my experience the best way to achieve this support, and indeed be a successfully creative entrepreneur, is to tell your prospective audience an honest and engaging story.

Think about it. The things that speak to us the most; films, books, paintings, articles, performances or conversations, are rooted in stories that for some reason or another connect with us in a truthful way. Be it the thrilling narrative and escapist blockbuster film, the heartbreak of a well-crafted novel or the entertaining punchline of a cheeky commercial, we are invited to invest a little of ourselves in whatever story is being presented to us, and in doing so, we are promised emotional rewards.

Crowdfunding and indeed all forms of advertising and marketing, digital or traditional, rely on the desired audience connecting with the narrative of the project, brand or product. This storytelling, weaving an engaging narrative throughout the entirety of the campaign, is essential to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

During the Pozible crowdfunding campaign for our eBook Mirabella the Mermaid Detective, my co-writer Margo and I were able to overcome the risk of annoying our audience with constant broadcasts of “PLEASE HELP US!”  by focusing on the story of our project. We shared sketches and sneak peek illustrations, told stories of the genesis of the idea and posted interesting pieces of information we had found while researching for a book set in the Great Barrier Reef. This gave our audience a window into the unfolding process of our project, and importantly invited them to be part of it. Without this, we would not have had a successful campaign.

Ultimately, the opportunity to be part of something creative, interesting, new and exciting, is one of the main reasons people pledge to a crowd funding campaign. We’re all searching for connection, in one way or another, and the keystone to being a successful creative entrepreneur is the ability to tell a good enough story that makes an audience want to connect with you.


Emma Gibbs is a producer, writer, social media/digital coordinator and Pozible ambassador born and bred on the Sunshine Coast. She loves wine, cheese, ‘making of’ DVD extras and connecting people. Emma would love to hear from you, and for you to watch the movie ‘her’ (because it’s incredible).

Twitter: @emmamgibbs
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